In Greater Peoria, specialty crops are, well, our specialty. We are the #1 producer of pumpkins and popcorn in the entire US. In fact, we are the WORLD’s largest bulk popcorn producer. Our region is anchored by a growing network of small, diversified farmers that are developing new markets, and mid-sized processing facilities throughout Central Illinois.
Our region is also home to the largest concentration of USDA Organic Certified farm operations in Illinois. Woodford and Tazewell counties are the #1 and #2 counties respectively. Combined with our AgTech innovators, our region is leading in the design of an economically- and ecologically-sustainable industry.
Our food processing industry exists in a special place in the world. In Greater Peoria, we grow the commodities and build the machinery that harvests and helps process those commodities. We are uniquely positioned in the heart of the Midwest with the tools and supply chain to make your company grow. Greater Peoria is one of the reasons why Illinois is #1 in the nation in processed food sales. With $180B in processed food sales and more patents in food-related industries than any other state, Illinois, supported by Greater Peoria Region’s agriculture industry, has become the epicenter of food processing. Our region is home to world players such as ADM, Nestle, CocaCola, Pepsico, Ingredion, Excalibur, and MGP to name a few. Our strong manufacturing roots and industry makes us exceptionally qualified to be home for your food processing business.
Greater Peoria is an industry leader in innovating agriculture by promoting and identifying sustainable methods and technologies – from AgTech companies creating technologies for improved planting and fertilization methods to the development of plant-based building materials. Our region is home to the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), one of the nation’s largest USDA-ARS research facilities. The NCAUR invents new uses of agricultural commodities for industrial and food products and develops technologies to improve environmental quality.
Greater Peoria is also part of a new statewide initiative led by the University of Illinois to develop a network of innovation centers. OSF Healthcare, Greater Peoria EDC, Illinois Central College, and the University of Illinois are working together to develop Distillery Labs, an innovation and entrepreneurial center. Food and agriculture innovation is one of the primary focuses of Distillery Labs. One key feature of Distillery Labs is a rooftop greenhouse to experiment with urban farming and hydroponic techniques. The Labs will also have a commercial kitchen for piloting a food pharmacy and restaurant concept testing, along with new and different food preparation methods.
The Greater Peoria EDC has partnered with the Morton Economic Development Council, OSF Healthcare, gBeta, and other regional institutions to develop the AgTech Connect Initiative. The initiative is focused on “shaping the future of agriculture” by promoting economic opportunity, sustainable growth, and stimulating innovations in agriculture through conversations, discussions, and networking. These sessions that are happening on a quarterly basis will cultivate this key industry in our region, bridge the connections and fuel the ecosystem to explore solutions and collaborative innovation.
Locate to Greater Peoria to join the growing industrial hemp industry hub in the Midwest. With support from local, regional, and state agencies—as well as a growing list of industry groups and resources—your hemp business can be built to scale right here in Greater Peoria. From our rich farmland and expert farmers to companies such as Revolution Enterprises and manufacturing startup Natural Fiber Welding, our logistically-advantageous location of Greater Peoria is the perfect spot to grow, process, manufacture, and distribute your hemp products.
At the Greater Peoria EDC, we consider it our business to connect and expand the state-wide network of growers and industry stakeholders to carve a path for a successful hemp industry supply chain throughout Illinois.